Built in 1967, Black Widow saw active service with the Russian Baltic Fleet at the height of the Cold War. Although modest compared to Russia’s latest Project 885 Yasen-class nuclear submarine, the U-475 was pretty formidable in its day, armed with 22 nuclear tipped warheads and 53 explosive mines.
But how did this cold warrior, built during the shoe-thumping premiership of Nikita Khrushchev, end up moored, of all places, in Rochester?
Known to the West by its NATO reporting name ‘Foxtrot,’ the sub is one of four that were sold off by the Russian navy in 1994. Brought to the UK by a private investor and initially opened as a museum, first near the Thames Barrier, then in 1999 at Folkston harbor, Black Widow is now undergoing major refurbishment on the River Medway.
“All this work you see going on, the restoration, we’re trying to do it sympathetically, correctly, and do a nice paint job on it so that we can find a location to move it to, to exhibit it again so that the general public can get on and see a bit of Cold War history,” restoration manager John Sutton told RT, atop the metal hulk.
“It’s unique. In the UK there’s nothing like it, nothing from the Cold War that can match it, from the Russian navy itself.”